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House Democrat calls West Virginia economy ‘irrelevant’

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An Illinois Democrat has been criticized after dismissing West Virginia’s economy as “irrelevant" to his party's key climate policy in the social spending package.

The Clean Electricity Performance Program would reward utilities that adopt renewable energy sources rather than fossil fuels, penalizing utilities that do not make the transition. The program was originally a provision of the social spending package that is still under negotiation among Democrats.

It will likely be dropped from the final legislation following objections from Sen. Joe Manchin, a West Virginia Democrat who has objected to the size and scope of the spending package.

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"If you came and said to me, 'We will pass the CEPP as written, but we will exempt West Virginia from it,' I would take that deal," Rep. Sean Casten told Politico. "Do I think that's possible? I mean, probably not, but that would be acceptable, right? Because West Virginia is an irrelevant part of our economy."

The remark quickly drew attention. West Virginia Republican Sen. Shelley Moore Capito wrote on Twitter that the CEPP “would devastate West Virginia’s economy — and in turn destroy communities and families. But according to @RepCasten, that’s okay because “West Virginia is an irrelevant part of our economy.”

Members of West Virginia’s House delegation also responded, with Rep. Carol Miller tweeting, “Every time a Liberal attacks Joe Manchin a miner finds a new coal seam.”


Casten’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment. In a lengthy Twitter thread on Saturday, he wrote that to remove the CEPP from the package “is to decide that climate change isn't a problem.”

The mining industry “makes up only a relatively small part of employment” in West Virginia, the Washington Post recently reported.

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A survey last year by the West Virginia Center on Budget & Policy based on Census data found the state has a poverty rate of 16%, 3.7 percentage points higher than the national average, and the 6th highest rate nationally.

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Tags: News, West Virginia, Shelley Moore Capito, Joe Manchin, Climate Change

Original Author: Kate Scanlon

Original Location: House Democrat calls West Virginia economy ‘irrelevant’

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